Conventional wisdom holds that the Scottish Conservatives face obliteration. Conventional wisdom, though, did not last week hold in the Aberdeen suburb of Bridge of Don. At a by-election for the City Council the Scottish Tories topped the poll, Sarah Cross romping home under the banner of the averred living dead.

It is often forgotten that what, until 1965, was the Scottish Unionist Party was in its heyday one of the most accomplished political outfits in Britain.

It remains the only party, in the era of universal suffrage, to have won (in 1955) an absolute majority of the Scottish vote. Scottish Tory MPs sat for seats as improbable as Lanark, Glasgow Govan and Central Ayrshire. It was Noel Skelton, not Anthony Eden, who coined the phrase “property-owning democracy” – and, as recently as the first direct European Parliament poll, in 1979, the Scottish Tories could still win a national election.